Aryna Sabalenka is daring to dream.
After a comprehensive straight-sets win over Donna Vekic, the 25-year-old Belarusian is just two wins away from her first ever grand slam title.
Sabalenka is no stranger to the semi final stage of grand slam tournaments, with Thursday’s meeting with unseeded Pole Magda Linette set to be the fourth grand slam semi of her career.
While players are often hesitant to look too far forward, a tantalising prospect is proving too hard to ignore for the No.5 seed: a potential all-Belarusian final against Victoria Azarenka.
“I really want it to happen,” Sabalenka said after her quarter final win.
“I know that Vika will do everything she can to make it happen. I will do everything to make it happen.
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“That’s going to be history. That’s going to be just like unbelievable and tough to realise that this (could) actually happen.”
Sabalenka being in the semis is not the biggest surprise, but Azarenka, the No.24 seed, has stunned everyone with a magical run that’s come a decade since the second of her two Australian Open titles.
Match Highlights: Aryna Sabalenka v Donna Vekic
The Belarusian pair have been two of a number of players forced to play without their flag at the Australian Open due to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Both Azarenka and Sabalenka were among the players who were left shattered when they were banned from Wimbledon last year. Sabalenka has already voiced her displeasure at being forced to play under a neutral flag at Melbourne Park, and opened up on the impact of the two bans.
“I would say that of course it affects me a lot,” she said.
“There (at Wimbledon) was tough and it’s still tough. But I just understand that it’s not my fault. Like, I have zero control.
How Azarenka conquered ‘fear’, ‘anxiety’
“If I could do something, of course I would do it, but I cannot do anything.”
So just what would an all-Belarusian final mean for little children watching back in Minsk, as Sabalenka once did, when she was inspired by the likes of Serena Williams?
“What can I say? I don’t know actually what to say, to be honest,” she said.
“It’s just going to be huge. I think this is going to help other kids to understand that they can do well in this sport, they can be top players.”
The dream is one win away.
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